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Ruminations on the Class

Well, I’m sure Anne has read a lot of this before. But, I’ll write it out anyway. I love creative writing. It is my passion. Yet, I have never been able to merge analytical writing and creative writing. This class showed me that that is possible. It didn’t teach me that I should quote Sontag and write fiction at the same time. Instead, “Play in the City” showed me that I can be as free in my Creative Writing as I am in my analytical writing.

Or, to use the language of the class, “Play in the City” showed me that there’s no harm playing in my writing, that the times in which I write the best and enjoy my writing the most are when I take risks. Moreover, these risks often pay off. Deep play and critical play aren’t hard to find while I’m writing. Critical play comes far more easily to me than deep play when I am writing because in the past I have felt constrained by structure. But, now as I’m writing this I realize that there is a physical structure to writing. This is unavoidable. The structure I feared was just a mental roadblock. Deep play allows me to go past this roadblock. By the time I’m deep playing, there is no concern over whether I write the word “Penis” or “Headband.” I am only hoping that I’m going somewhere with my writing.

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The Beautiful Little Rhomboid

After taking a step back, going home to California and driving to my city (San Francisco), I think the best way for me to end this class is to write an essay lauding discussion-based classes. While I drove through the city, I realized that so much of what we’ve talked about is there: Simmel, Zetkin, and many more. But more importantly, it became clear to me that it wasn’t just Simmel or Zetkin who was correct. They all were. And, they all weren’t.

Steadily, throughout the course, I’ve come to realize something about rightness and wrongness. I’ve written about wrongness before, but this is different. I still love being wrong and being told I’m wrong. But now, I think there’s something bigger than this and perhaps better.

Every day, we would come to class and disagree and agree. Some people would promote the Believing Game. Others would ask us to turn back to the Doubting Game. And slowly, I think everyone realized that it’s not black and white. In fact, few things are. We shouldn’t just scorn interpretation, but we also shouldn’t constantly search for some personal narrative, some greater meaning. 

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Play in the CIty Part II: Believing Game in Action

Sontag: believing game

Yes, people focus on their analyzation/interpretation of art far more than the emotional impact of the art. In the English classes I have been in, people are spending more time trying to manipulate texts in certain ways to prove an interpretation they hold. Yet, this is not a direct reading or a respectful one. It ignores the original work, and it distances people from it. People feel as if the interpretation of a work actually surpasses the work itself.

I would go to the Free Library and pick up books off of the shelves and read one to two sentences from each of them. Perhaps the lack of context would help me separate interpretation of a text from the text itself. Maybe the words themselves will impact me more than the meaning that might surround the words (this wouldn't be the other words on the page, but my own separate thoughts about words that is derived from context). Maybe in this way I could actually test the believing game and submit myself to it so that I could better understand the benefits of Sontag's argument.

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Spill the Beans

If I figure out the cure to cancer, do I have to tell society?

My immediate answer is no. No one has to do anything. I strongly believe this. I do not have to wake up tomorrow morning, I do not have to go to my ESEM, and I definitely do not have to buy everyone Christmas presents.

But, I now realize a hang-up of semantics. It is not that I have to tell society, but that I should. 

Imagine if your neighbor gave you a teaspoon of salt, and you used that salt to make macaroons. It would be nice of you to give your neighbor a macaroon, but you don’t have to. Similarly, if society gives you all of the tools that help you shape your identity and your thoughts, you don’t have to give them your innovative ideas.

However, you should. Since you would have never made the macaroons without the salt and you would have never come up with the idea without society (the education you received, all of the experiences that allowed you to formulate this idea etc.), you should give your neighbor a macaroon and your idea to society.

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Peter the Mint Eagle and Bird Watching

I want to go visit Peter the Mint Eagle and go bird watching in Philadelphia. I became interested in Peter shortly after watch the John Steward clip in which he argues that NY pizza is better than Chicago pizza. Although it seems as if Peter and pizza are not at all connected, they are. Both are/were symbols to a large group of people at one time. As we have discussed, cities encompass vast groups of people that do not always interact and rarely agree on the importance of one thing. However, most people in Chicago are willing to argue that their pizza is pretty damn good. Pizza transcends all of the city's internal boundaries. It is not only a source of pride; it is a source of agreement. I guess what I'm searching for is a better understanding of why Peter the Mint Eagle is important to a city, or pizza is. How are people able to settle differences over a bird or a type of food? I'm essentially curious about the production of meaning in cities.

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The Barnes Foundation and Intellectual Property

I would like to focus on intellectual property and human rights in my upcoming paper. I will be reading some of the novel Intellectual Property and Human Development and I will be exploring utilitarian arguments concerning intellectual property. While watching The Art of Steal I thought about one of the proponent's (of the move of the Barnes Foundation) arguments: that art should be accessible to large groups of people. Although the film did not emphasize this argument, the argument is a good one, and at the core of it are the issues of intellectual property and human rights. So, is art the property of the person who buys it? Or, is it human property? Since Van Gogh's art influences massive amounts of people, does it belong to humanity or to the sole owner of the Van Gogh? I think it would be a mighty feat to answer these questions and I doubt I'll be able to do it. But, I hope to explore these issues and the questions they raise.

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Tricky Demuth

I glance at Demuth’s Three Figures in Water, and see three people swimming in the ocean. I begin to walk away, but as I take a step back, I realize that there are not three people in the painting, only three figures. Each figure has black bowl-cut hair. And, even though I cannot see one of the figure’s faces, I assume that he looks like the two other men in the painting. Like them, he has light skin and soft features. I see that all three figures are replicas of each other. They might not be three people; Demuth may have painted one man in different positions. First, he may have painted a man who is completely submerged in the ocean. Then, Demuth painted the same man again, but had him stand up in the water and rest his arms on the waves. And, Demuth may have painted this man one last time. On the right, the man swims in the ocean with his head above the surface.

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Experiment with Culture

I've been thinking more about 17 Border Crossings and its relation to the imagination. It's not merely that we construct things like borders, but that we construct our perceptions of cultures. Of course, he experienced different cultures, but often, his interactions with the border crossing guards would be very similar. In fact, I I would be interested to see all of the dialogues translated into English so I could compare them. When he goes to the moon, it's all in his imagination. He seems to think that by travelling he'll find this grand difference between different places. It isn't just that the landscape is similar at a border, it's also that people aren't inherently different. When you impose something like various cultures into relationships, it's easy to distance yourself from someone and create "the other." But, this "other" is imagined.

It's an interesting experiment to think back on the play and separate each person from their prescribed culture. It shows us how 17 Border Crossings makes us test our social constructions and our imagination.

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Deep Play and the Liberal Arts Education

On Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment. Before seeing my doctor, a nurse asked me to take off my shoes so that she could weigh me. This made me very nervous. Still, I took off my shoes and got onto the scale. When she read aloud the amount I weighed, I was not surprised, but I was terrified. I had lost ten pounds since I came to Bryn Mawr. Walking back from the doctor’s appointment, I thought a great deal about the weight loss. It was not a good sign. To be very clear, I do not have any sort of eating disorder. I have lost weight because I get very absorbed in any and all activities I partake in. If I am reading, writing, watching TV, knitting etc. I will often forget to go to lunch, drink some water, sleep, or even go to the bathroom. In the past, friends and family have been able to break me out of the trances I get into while I’m working. But, at Bryn Mawr, I have to be much more independent. I realized, while walking back, that I needed to take better care of myself.

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Deep Play in Nightowl

I often feel like I experience deep play while I'm writing (even while I'm writing analytical papers). Although I don't actually know if Nightowl felt deep play, I see it in her argument. Whenever I write, I am so absorbed yet malleable. Often, I end up convincing myself of my arguments after I wrote them down. Since Nightowl observes an opinion and then comes to agree with it, it seems as if the process of writing led nightowl into a state of deep play. But, I may just be projecting.

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